Legally Speaking: Restaurant Revitalization Fund

By: Jill Miller, RSPA General Counsel

I recently booked my airplane ticket and hotel room for RetailNOW 2021, and I am eager and excited to meet many of you in person and learn more about your businesses. Earlier this year, I presented to the membership the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund (“RRF”) established under The American Rescue Plan Act. The RRF was established to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses survive the losses endured during the periods they were required to keep their business closed. Since that presentation, the SBA has started to accept applications, and the number of restaurants applying is staggering.

This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss of up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.

As a reminder, the RRF funds may be used for specific expenses, including:

  • Business payroll costs (including sick leave)
  • Payments on any business mortgage obligation
  • Business rent payments (note: this does not include prepayment of rent)
  • Business debt service (both principal and interest; note: this does not include any prepayment of principal or interest)
  • Business utility payments
  • Business maintenance expenses
  • Construction of outdoor seating
  • Business supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials)
  • Business food and beverage expenses (including raw materials)
  • Covered supplier costs
  • Business operating expenses

In the SBA’s Program Guide as of April 28, 2021, business operating expenses is defined as follows: business expenses incurred through normal business operations that are necessary and mandatory for the business (e.g., rent, equipment, supplies, inventory, accounting, training, legal, marketing, insurance, licenses, fees). Business operating expenses do not include expenses that occur outside of a company’s day-to-day activities.

Many of our members offer products and services that are eligible expenses under the RRF. Now is a good time to revisit that conversation with your clients regarding ways in which technology can improve their operations and profitability. Recipients of an RRF grant are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023. Accordingly, restaurants can use the funds for business expenses not yet incurred. Remember, funds not used must be returned to the SBA. Even if a restaurant chooses not to purchase that updated equipment in 2021, be sure to follow up in 2022 and 2023 and ASK the question, “Have you spent all of your RRF grant?”

The SBA continues to update its website with information related to the RRF as they roll out the program. There is an opportunity to receive updates related to the RRF program directly from the SBA by signing up for email notifications. 

As always, if you have any legal questions, the RSPA legal benefit is available to members, and I would be delighted to assist. Stay safe, and I look forward to seeing you at RetailNOW 2021 in Nashville.